When it comes to travelling abroad, we often take our mobile phones with us to use in case of an emergency. Years ago, there were very few other options, while today there is a whole array of possibilities. Roaming charges can be crippling, particularly if you do not pay attention to the amount of data used or the hours spent speaking with loved ones back home. You will often need to make local calls as well and that in itself will cost you quite a bit. A new product called KnowRoaming was invented to counter those steep fees with numbers that are more manageable. Whether you are equipping yourself with unlimited data that lets you make calls through free applications such as Skype and Viber, or simply taking the pay-per-use option for calls, SMS messages and data usage, this little sticker which is placed over your SIM card and seemingly magically reduces the prices.
KnowRoaming works with any GSM Android, iPhone or Windows mobile device, connecting one with local carriers as soon as the country other than the home (where it stays dormant) is entered. You will require an unlocked phone and pay an original $29.99 for the sticker kit. Blackberries are not supported, nor are iPhones and Android phones under the 4.0 model. Any Android tabled or iPad is supported however, as well as any Windows phone. Plus, if you register within 15 days of receiving the package, you get a $15 credit added to your account for free, essentially reducing the kit cost to $14.99.
How does it work? You apply the KnowRoaming sticker to your SIM card once and it will automatically reduce rates when you travel. For the frequent flyer out there, particularly to places that are more remote, this option is particularly interesting. However, not all countries have massively reduced roaming rates. Some are actually pretty much on par with provider rates, at least when it comes to local calls. Some countries do not support the reduced data cost option. After fiddling with the rates posted on the website for when calling, texting or using data in any country, it appears as if certain European countries such as France, Italy, and the United Kingdom in particular offer amazingly cheap rates, while others such as some Arabian, African or West Asian countries may not be very different from the original rates after all.
There are two features in particular that make it handy. The ReachMe feature ensures you receive all calls, no matter where in the world you are, while the Foreign Numbers feature allows you to subscribe to a local number and appear as a local to your contacts in the region. You can also check rates and usage in real-time, meaning you are never blindsided by the costs. All in all, it seems to be a rather interesting new manner by which one can cut costs when there are no WiFi hotspots around.